WECDSB releases updated back-to-school guidelines
WINDSOR, ONT. -- After going “back to the drawing board” on Aug. 14, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board released their full reopening plan Wednesday.
“We feel these plans answer a lot of the questions and concerns that people had,” says board spokesperson Steve Fields.
He says they have been working “feverishly” since last week, after the ministry allowed them to “unlock” reserve funds to improve physical distancing in schools.
As part of the revised plan, not all kids will be going back to school the day after Labour Day.
“Grades one, two and three will come on the Tuesday and then four, five and six, and then seven and eight. So by the end of the week we will have all students incrementally added to the school cohort,” says executive superintendent of education student achievement Emelda Byrne.
Senior Kindergarten students will be the last group to attend.
At the secondary level, there are changes to students going to school for the quad semester.
“We’ve added that the component that are home the last two days of the week can actually opt into the classroom through a tech device so that they’re learning is sequential so that they’re not missing any lessons,” says Emelda.
The boards’ detailed guidelines include outbreak protocols, details of what online learning will look like and key dates for when parents can opt-in or out of their schooling choices.
If a student is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they will “be removed immediately into an area that’s called an isolation room at the school,” Emelda says.
Both parents and the Windsor Essex County Health Unit will be notified.
During remote learning, students and parents will be provided with a daily schedule or timetable that includes 300 minutes of learning opportunities. The document outlines the minimum amount of time per day for students, depending on grade level.
The board says teachers will be available to remote students as they would be if they were face-to-face in a classroom setting.
Parents are asked to fill out the parent declaration form by 12 p.m. Friday, Aug.21, indicating which option they will select.
The local catholic school board says more than half of the 20,000 students have already responded.
21 per cent of elementary students have opted for online learning, and 15 per cent at the secondary level.
“If we can get students from a mental health well-being perspective and an academic perspective going into the classroom, the other things will fall into place in due time,” Emelda tells CTV Windsor.
Now that the updated guidelines are posted online, the board says they will follow it up with an automated voice message to all families about the protocols.
The message says the new guidelines address many questions from the hundreds of emails and phone calls they received.
CTV News did reach out to the Ontario Elementary Catholic Teachers Association.
Darryl Fanick, Acting President for the Windsor-Essex Elementary Unit says they will be reviewing the board’s plan thoroughly, and will engage in further dialogue with them over the coming days around our shared goal of achieving a safe return to school for all educators and students.
With files from CTV's Angelo Aversa and Melanie Borrelli.